Editor’s Letter | Animal Matters

The importance of wildlife art

By Kristin Hoerth

 Nancy Rynes, Running Paint, oil, 24 x 36.

Nancy Rynes, Running Paint, oil, 24 x 36.

This story was featured in the March 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art March 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

I’ve always thought of myself as an animal lover. I grew up with two lovable cats, one tabby and one black, as well as an exuberant golden retriever; today I share my home with another black cat. All of these pets have been members of the family—diligently cared for, showered with affection, worried over when necessary, and above all, thoroughly loved.

The artists featured this month in our “Animal Kingdom” portfolio (which begins on page 84), however, bring a much different level of meaning to the phrase “animal lover.” These talented artists devote a great deal of time to observing, understanding, and portraying creatures that are unfamiliar to many of us: wolves, lions, mountain goats, moose, and elephants, for example, as well as more familiar species such as horses and all kinds of birds. We spoke with them about their work, and after reading their comments, I was struck by three statements in particular that underline the importance of wildlife art.

The first idea came from Colorado painter Nancy Rynes, who told us that she hopes “to inspire an appreciation of the fact that there’s so much more to this world than just us.” There are so many human challenges in the today’s world that it can be easy to forget about the needs and issues surrounding the creatures with whom we share the planet. Wildlife art keeps those considerations top of mind.

The second idea came from Pennsylvania artist Patricia A. Griffin, who believes that animals “are every bit as much individuals as humans.” Many of us would find it easy to agree with that statement when it comes to cats, dogs, and horses; it’s more difficult to see that individuality in, say, a herd of bison or zebras. Wildlife artists bring to life the personalities of animals so that the rest of us can learn to appreciate them.

The third idea came from New York artist Eva van Rijn, who says that “in my way, I’m documenting a vanishing world, so there’s a feeling of nostalgia for the American wilderness.” We see open spaces disappearing in ways both large and small all around us, and of course, the less wilderness we have, the less wildlife we have. Wildlife art reminds us not to lose sight of this fact.

For all these reasons and more, we appreciate wildlife and animal artists for bringing beauty and meaning to the world.

Featured in the March 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art March 2015 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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